Pierre Le Moyne d’lberville

Pierre Le Moyne d’lberville


A man who became admired far and wide for his exploits, Pierre Le Moyne d’lberville was born in Montreal, the third of 1 2 sons of a prosperous merchant. Nearly all of the sons went into public service.

Pierre began his military career in 1686. He distinguished himself on an agonizing overland march to Hudson Bay, where the French captured English trading posts. This was only the first of five campaigns that he made to the Hudson Bay region.

King William’s War broke out between England and France in 1689. During that winter, Iberville went accompanied a French and Indian war party that devastatedthe settlement of Schenectady, New York. This action brought retaliation from New York and New England, which sent soldiers against New France that summer and fall.

In the fall of 1690, Pierre was on a mission to Hudson Bay, and therefore did not participate in the successful defense of Quebec. His brother Saint Helene did take part, and was one of the few French killed in the fighting.

In 1694, Iberville led the French expedition that captured York Fort on Hudson Bay. In 1696, he led a French and Native American war party that captured and destroyed Fort William Henry at Pemaquid, in what is now Maine. Late that year, he rav- aged the English fishing settlements in Newfoundland.

In the summer of 1697, he won his most remarkable victory and secured his reputation as a brilliant naval commander. Aboard the 56-gun ship Pelican, he defeated three English warships on Hudson Bay. One of the English ships sank, another surrendered, and the third fled. The Pelican herself sank, but Iberville survived.

King William’s War ended in 1697. In the brief interval of peace that followed, Iberville sailed from France and located the mouth of the Mississippi River from the Gulf of Mexico. Although La Salle had claimed the Mississippi area for King Louis XIV, it was Iberville and his younger brother Jean Baptiste (see no. 72) who truly founded the Louisiana colony.

Queen Anne’s War between England and France began in 1702, and in 1706 Iberville sailed on his last campaign. He arrived in the Caribbean and captured the English island of Nevis. He intended to continue his string of conquests, but he caught yellow fever and suddenly died in July He was buried at Havana, Cuba.

Pierre Le Moyne Iberville was a pure warrior whose flair and personal style endeared him to many of his countrymen. He has been called the first truly Canadian hero.